Read Romans 10:1-21
A Longhorn Sermon Or A Word From God?
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can
they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can
they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can
they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How
beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Digging Deeper: Okay, this may sound a little self-serving since I am one, but I just want to echo what Paul is saying: Up with preachers! The Christian message requires them! The building of faith requires them! The evangelization of the world requires them!
You go, preacher!
Did you notice that the Gospel formula, if you will, goes something like this: Salvation requires belief; belief requires the communicated Word; the communicated Word requires a preacher; and the preacher requires a divine call. Therefore, in the Christian equation, preaching must be kept preeminent! It is the God-ordained tool for building faith:
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
We live in a culture where far too many churches have downplayed the preaching of the Word. People don’t like to be preached at, so preaching is reduced to “sharing”, messages are more like motivational pep talks and the preacher becomes a self-improvement guru. In truth, what passes as a message in many churches amounts to nothing more than a “longhorn” sermon—a point here, a point there, and a lot of bull in between.
Not only is the sermon reduced to a lesser role, but in the place of preaching, music and drama have taken the preeminence. Now don’t get me wrong—I love good music, and I believe that churches ought to have the best fine arts approach to worship and evangelism possible. Too many churches turn off spiritual seekers because the song selection is out-of-date, the style belongs in the dark ages, and the skill of the musicians would be better served as an implement of torture in the hands of CIA agents at Gitmo. As it relates to the drama ministry, the old adage that “no drama is better than bad drama” has definitely been ignored. There needs to be a commitment to excellence befitting the King of Kings in regards to the worship arts of a church. And I thank God that I belong to a fellowship with that kind of commitment.
But the preaching of the Word must never lose its primacy in the ministry of the local church. Churches must be committed to it, and must demand the same kind of skill that I’ve just suggested of the church’s fine arts. Why? Because preaching is the primary vehicle for the development of disciples and for the formation of faith necessary for spiritual seekers to find Christ. The Word of God must be taught clearly, thoroughly, accurately, interestingly, relevantly, passionately and consistently, or the church has failed in its mission.
Richard Baxter, the Puritan preacher once remarked, “I preach as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.” Your preacher must be fully aware that when he or she preaches, eternity literally hangs in the balance. I would recommend that you copy that down on a 5 x 7 card and tape it to the pulpit in full view so that when your pastor steps behind “the sacred desk”, he or she is reminded of their role and senses your supportive expectation that they are carrying out the central activity of the gathered community of faith: the preaching of the Word of God!
Oh, one more thing. Your preacher may be the one assigned to declare God’s truth to your congregation from the pulpit, but you, too, have been called to preach the Good News. You are a preacher, and the world God has placed you in is your parish.
So preach away—both with your life and your words.
“All originality and no plagiarism makes for dull preaching!”
This Week’s Assignment:
- Re-read Romans 10:1-21
- Memorize Romans 10:9-10, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.”
- For Your Consideration: Read these verses, as well as the immediate context (Romans 10:5:13) from several different translations (I would recommend the NIV, The Message, and the New Living Translation). Why are these verses such a centerpiece to the Christian message? How does your own view of salvation line up with what Paul has written? Do you think your Christian friends have a good grasp on what it takes to be saved, and if not, how can you engage them in a spiritual conversation about this matter?